Smoking in Pregnancy, Criminal Behavior Link Confirmed

Adult offspring's criminal behavior risk higher if mother smoked heavily during pregnancy

THURSDAY, Nov. 18 (HealthDay News) -- The relationship between heavy maternal smoking in pregnancy (MSP) and criminal offenses committed by adult offspring remains significant even after adjustment for multiple potential confounders, according to research published online Nov. 15 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Angela D. Paradis, of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues examined the relationship between MSP and adult criminal offending using data from 3,766 members of the Providence, R.I., cohort of the Collaborative Perinatal Project. This database contained information on many potential confounders of this relationship, data which had been missing from previous studies on the subject.

After controlling for a range of potential confounders using propensity score methods, the researchers found that adult offspring of MSP smoking at least 20 cigarettes per day had the highest odds of having an arrest record (odds ratio, 1.31) compared to offspring of nonsmoking mothers, and the effect was similar in male and female offspring. The offspring of mothers who smoked heavily during pregnancy also had increased odds of multiple versus no arrests (odds ratio, 1.47).

"In our study, we find that the effect of MSP, while attenuated, remains after accounting for a comprehensive set of confounding variables," the authors write. "Coupled with research conducted on younger age groups, our data suggest that heavy MSP may have a weak to moderate independent effect on only the most serious forms of adult antisocial behavior (e.g., chronic criminal offending) that are persistent across the life-course."

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